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White House Hires Chief Data Scientist

DJ Patil - GreylockBig data is a big deal for the Obama administration, and as a result the White House announced last week it has hired one of Silicon Valley’s top data scientists. DJ Patil, formerly of LinkedIn and RelateIQ, a subsidiary of Salesforce, now serves as chief data scientist in residence for the White House. His focus will be on healthcare data, said John Podesta, counselor to the president, during a Feb. 5 press call about the administration’s recent big data initiatives.

Patil’s hiring was announced in alignment with the release of “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values,” a White House progress report on big data and privacy in the federal government. Patil is often credited with publicizing the term “data scientist” — in 2012, he co-authored a Harvard Business Review article in which he called data scientist the sexiest job of the 21st century. Patil will work alongside federal CTO Megan Smith.

 

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